Green building practices are growing in Seattle.

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Net-zero energy is the goal, right? This means that all the energy consumed on a given patch of ground is at least equal to the amount generated by whatever is built on that patch, be it a factory or a fruit stand.

Renewable energy can be created in a variety of ways, but here in Seattle, it’s usually with solar panels.

And green building practices are growing in Seattle. Currently this city is one of the Top 10 in the United States with the most LEED and Energy Star-certified buildings. And it ranks No. 5 in the country for policies and programs that advance energy efficiency.

One of the best-known net-zero buildings in Seattle is the Bullitt Center, with its energy-efficient design and 575 solar panels. The goal of the building was to generate enough power in the summer months to sell excess electricity to the power grid, and buy the power it needed beyond what it produced in the winter. But in the first year of operation, the facility needed 75 percent less energy than a new building of a similar size. And, it produced over 100,000 more kilowatt-hours of electricity than it used. Who says it always rains in Seattle?

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But the Bullitt Center isn’t the only net-zero structure in the Seattle area. More and more people are building net-zero homes or converting their existing homes, and with green building gaining popularity, careers in clean energy are on the rise.

Shoreline Community College offers the only clean-energy program at the community college level in Western Washington and was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant to further strengthen the program. Louise Petruzzella, director of the program, says that solar has grown so much in recent years that for their 300 graduates of the program, “If they want a job, they definitely have a job at this point.”

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